Força Ukraine Update: July 24, 2023

Dear friends – 

Apologies for the delay since our last update – about four days ago, the team moved to our last training location.  This is a centralized training facility where medics who are operating on or near the front lines cycle back for additional training and to replace teammates who have been injured or killed.  There are also new medics reporting, who may get three or four days of training with a team like ours before going to the front lines.  The needs remain great and the training opportunities for medical training limited and not standardized at all on the macro level.  It sometimes makes us wonder if we are moving the needle, but then we interact with the individual medics who talk about how training helped save a friend, or how a piece of medical equipment allowed them to save a life.  The collective remains horrific, the specific gives us hope.  

This is our last week here in Ukraine, and we are so grateful to have had this opportunity.  Your generous donations allowed us to replenish almost all of the medical and training gear we donated when we were in the East,  Your donations and support also allowed us to be the first – and as far as we know – only training team to go as far into the East as we did.  This enabled us to take training, materials, and expertise into areas that have thus far not received the benefit of any outside training.  When we returned to Dnipro, we were able to purchase an additional 150 tourniquets from the local manufacturer, Dnipro Tourniquet.  For those of us that use tourniquets and train on them regularly, we all agree that it is the best product on the market – and it costs less than half of the price of a similar option from the US.  Our Foundational promises of buying local to support the local economy, ensure that your donation goes as far as possible, and we can provide easily replicable materials are never far from mind.  

It is also very beneficial that we were able to restock our supplies – one of the efforts we have been prioritizing here is ensuring that all the medics have appropriately stocked first aid kits.  We were shown one yesterday that only contained a single roll of gauze, a single wound dressing, and a foil blanket.  Can you imagine trying to save lives with such a poorly equipped kit?  Thanks to you, we were able to provide that medic with new tourniquets, chest seals, decompression needles, new shears, additional gauze, and other supplies – exactly how we set up our kits here.  We spent much of yesterday – a down day at the facility – sitting with medics and ensuring every single one of their kits was equipped properly for the task.  None of that happens without your help.  We also spent time with them going over high level skills – we demonstrated field whole blood transfusion, refined their IV skills, provided training on intraosseous access as well as needle decompression, and reviewed the advanced airway skill of surgical cric.  

The team is living simply – again, attempting to make sure every available dollar goes to training and materials.  The facility was kind enough to set us up with a tent – all six of us share it, sleeping on cots.  They also feed us some mix of grains and meat that does not feature much variety from day to day.  It is a Spartan life, but we could not be happier to be here – maybe me more than most.  We are fully integrated into their life and training cycle, and we are getting to know them on a personal level.  It is heartbreaking to know that many will likely not be alive by the end of the summer, and even fewer as this terrible conflict grinds on.  

As always, I am so grateful for your support.  The whole team talks frequently about how fortunate we are to have this opportunity and be able to provide this training.  For some of these medics, this training is all they will receive before they are expected to function in the role.  I think of my own training of over a year to be licensed as a paramedic and my work was not nearly as daunting as what stands before any one of them.  I assure you that in the remaining time we are here, the entire team is dedicated to doing all we can to prepare them.  

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